It's fair to say that Italy, together with Sweden (including such brilliant acts like High Roller recording artists In Solitude and Portrait), is the most fertile breeding ground for current Heavy Metal bands. Witchunter are another new and very talented act from the land of Bulldozer and Baphomet's Blood (with whom they toured in Germany in April 2011). This is how it all started: "Witchunter was founded in 2007 by the guitarist Ace Iustini and the drummer Bos Capece; straight after that the singer Steve Di Leo and the bass guitarist Chuck Verdecchia joined the band and the line-up remained the same to this day. In 2008, our first self-produced demo CD 'Witchunter' was released. It was repressed in 2009 on vinyl, as a split-album with Witchcurse from Greece, in an original piece by the german Heavy Forces Records, named 'Defenders of the Past'. Meanwhile, we played a lot in Italy, sharing the stage with bands like Tank, Elixir and Overdrive (UK)."
“Crystal Demons” is the band's first full-length album, released on CD by My Graveyard Productions and on vinyl by High Roller Records. Song titles such as "Princess of Hell", "Crystal Demons" or "The Breath of Satan" led me to believe that Witchunter are very much into the occult (like a lot of their Italian forefathers). That does indeed seem to be the case: "Of course, we are really fascinated by Satanic and occult themes; I think that only thanks to them specific atmospheres can be created and determined kind of feelings can be generated in people. It is known that rock and evil are linked together." So why are so many Italian bands singing about the horned one? Is that some kind of counter-reaction to Catholicism, which is still very much alive and kicking especially in rural Italy? Witchunter don't think it's a very Italian thing: "Certainly in Italy a culture affected by the Catholic church still remains, but I don’t think that this occult outlook is soley an Italian phenomenon. There have been many bands in the past singing about occult themes. And that's from all around the world."
However, as explained earlier, it's quite astoninshing how many good new bands Italy has given birth to in the recent past. The band confirms: "Yes, there are many new bands in Italy and some of them are really good bands, like Sign of the Jackal for example. I cannot explain the presence of so many bands. Probably there are actually too many because a lot of them follow the wave of the moment keeping the most important thing, the music, in second order. In foreign countries Baphomet’s Blood is surely the most well-known band and for me they are the best in Italy at the moment because they are people believing in what they do 100%."
As can be imagined, Witchunter keep up the tradition of glorious Italian bands from the '80's: "We really like '80’s Italian Metal; particularly bands like Strana Officina, Sabotage, Vanexa, Death SS, Dark Quarterer and others. They made really good albums but they never made it in foreign countries; we had the pleasure to share a stage with a lot of of them and got to know them in person."
Apart from that, Witchunter are heavily influenced by the N.W.O.B.H.M.: "Yes, we chose 'Hellbound' from the Tygers of Pan Tang as a cover song for the album beause of our love of the N.W.O.B.H.M. We made a tribute to one of the greatest bands of this movement. 'Hellbound' is also one of our favourite songs from this band. The N.W.O.B.H.M. in general is indeed our main influence; in particular we get inspired by bands like Tank, Jaguar (first album), Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Chateaux, Holocaust etc. We also like European Metal bands suchs as Killer, Crossfire, Picture, Stormwitch and Gotham City. Finally, for us Kiss is the best band in the world!"